Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I Don't Normally Take Requests . . .

. . . but sometimes I do. Especially on a day that tastes like peppermint mocha, whipped cream, and tunafish.

But first, some background.

Ya'll know November is NaNoWriMo, yes? Well, at the office I'm in, there are two creative types who participate each year. Where most folks in this arena have all their academic credentials on the wall (down to notary public certificates and grade school spelling awards, it seems)these two have NaNoWriMo completion wallpaper (a tich blurry from where the .jpg was enlarged and printed, but there all the same).

There's no way I'm committing to a long writing project. Been there, done that, lost three of 'em when the computer died and all that was left was frag salad. After being widowed three times over, I'm just out to play the field.

However, I can't leave well enough alone. Any time there's a challenge, it seems I'm in it up to my ears.

So . . . I just had to do something. I'd been writing fifty-five word stories for postcards off and on as the mood struck me.

Sometimes it would just be a humourous thought:

He walked in as I was clipping the pollen-bearing bits off a floral arrangement. “What are you doing?”

“Castrating flowers,” I leered. “It makes the blooms last longer. After they’re pollinated, they wilt.”

“You know everything, don’t you?”

“Well, no.” I showed him the fuzzy bits in my palm. “I just have all the anthers.”

It was a great way to memorialize something funny that happened, because something funny happens most every day.

It was hot in the office, an itchy heat. He loosened his tie, undid the collar button. That helped, but when he took off his jacket, inspiration struck.

Shoes, socks, shirt, pants -- all joined the pile. Hearing footsteps, he hid in the closet.

“Look,” she said. “I’ve never seen a lawyer shed his skin before.”

But with NaNoWriMo going on, I felt like I had to step up to the plate somehow. While I wasn't willing to commit to a novel, surely I could do something else.

I could write a fifty-five word story evey day for a month! That would be thirty of them . . . and if I kept it up for three months, I'd have near-as-dammit 100 stories. I could bind them into little quartos. One on each page would be the kind of wild slim novel propounded by St. Baty. Fun!

“Some people write a novel in thirty days, but I don’t have their powers of concentration.”

“Or the time. Think of the time involved.”

“Besides, I don’t think I have that much to say. A whole novel? So I thought I’d start small.”

“So what are you working on during NaNoWriMo?”

“A fifty-five word story.”

So far, so good. I've stuck with it, and at the end of this month the first quarter in its quarto will be complete. I made a winsome little bookie out of painted magazine pages, and have tipped-in November and December so far. I need to rebind said litle bookie, as the tip-ins have fattened the text block so much that it poofs out and will not lie still. I have a tendency to use string that's a bit small and sew a bit tight when I work Coptic anyway--two threads in tandem work much better--and I'm not entirely happy with the cover. It doesn't go with the text or reflect what's inside, so I'll put the covers to use with another block and do an artist's journal with them.

I let one of the Tonstant Weaders who knows me IRL read the first quarter bookie, and she loved one of the stories so well that she asked me to put it on my blog so she could print it out/return to it/memorize it/whatever she's going to do with it (except steal it and pass it off as her own). So, thank you Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.

I used to believe words were magic; if I said the right things I could have anything and be anything I wanted. My thank you notes were works of art, my holiday cards always included a line specifically tailored for the recipient. It was my own form of white spellcasting.

Then I met my father-in-law.

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